My wife and I just finished Nicole Krauss's remarkable novel, The History of Love. My wife first devoured it, and when she quite quickly and decisively described it as perhaps her favorite book ever (and she doesn't just say this everyday), I splurged, bought the book, and also proceeded to inhale it from the first lines ("When they write my obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say, LEO GURSKY IS SURVIVED BY AN APARTMENT FULL OF SHIT.")
Krauss's writing is dynamic, with a wide range. There's no monotone rut of observation. Instead, she manages to inhabit several very diverse characters (how does a 34-year-old write so well in the voice of an old man?). The novel has embedded within it several different genres, and layers upon layers (books within books and translations of books, with journals and letter and poems interspersed). And while it is certainly a meditation on love (both familial and romantic, love lost and love hoped-for), it is also a profound exploration of language and all of our attempts to find "words for everything." The book's impact hovers somewhere between ecstacy and mourning, rapture and heartbreak. And it's a book that keeps haunting you for a while. A must read.